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Date: Fri 28-Aug-1998



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Date: Fri 28-Aug-1998

Publication: Bee

Author: ANDYG

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P&Z Seeks To Regulate Telecommunications Towers


Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) members are considering a set of proposed

rules to regulate the installation of wireless telecommunications towers and


Although such regulations would be enacted by the P&Z, they would be

administered by the Zoning Board of Appeals, said Elizabeth Stocker, the P&Z's

planning consultant.

P&Z members discussed the proposed regulations at an August 20 session. Ms

Stocker plans to revise the proposal before it is discussed again. The

proposed regulations will be the subject of a P&Z public hearing sometime this


The proposed rules acknowledge that the federal Telecommunications Reform Act

of 1996 allows the local installation of telecommunications facilities, but

seeks to regulate their placement to minimize disruptions to the community.

According to a draft version of the regulations, the rules would be used to:

encourage the placement of telecommunication facilities away from residential

neighborhoods; protect scenic and natural vistas; place facilities on existing

non-residential buildings and structures; minimize the visibility of

facilities through careful design, siting and screening; avoid adversely

affecting historic features; and reduce the number of antennas and/or towers

needed in the future.

Ms Stocker said P&Z members have asked that the proposed regulations be

revised to deter the placement of telecommunications facilities in three land

use zones: the Sandy Hook Design District (SHDD); the Fairfield Hills Adaptive

Reuse zone (FHAR); and the Conservation/Agriculture zone (C/A).

The wireless communications industry is "very complicated," Ms Stocker said.

Wireless communications includes devices such as pagers, analog cellular

telephones and digital cellular phones.

The town is not able to prevent the local placement of wireless communications

towers under the provisions of the 1996 law, she said. Ms Stocker pointed out

that approximately 97 percent of the town's land area has residential zoning.

She said she hopes as few towers as possible are constructed locally.

Toward that goal, the number of towers necessary to provide wireless service

locally can be reduced if various communications companies share the same

towers, she said.

Also, there are ways to camouflage towers so that they are less visible, she


"The goal is to make them (towers) as `invisible' as possible," she said.

Through the proposed regulations "we're trying to give the industry guidance

as to what our preferences are," she said.

In 1997, Sprint Spectrum built a 150-foot-tall steel, monopole-style tower off

South Main Street to hold a nine antenna array for digital cellular

communications. The free standing tower is in an M-5 industrial zone on the

west side of South Main Street, south of Bear Hills Road, just north of the

Monroe town line.

After the ZBA approved tower construction, an adjacent South Main Street

property owner sued the ZBA and Sprint over the approval. That lawsuit was

later settled out of court.

In January 1997, in the face of strong neighborhood opposition to its proposal

to build a 180-foot-tall monopole-style tower for digital cellular

telecommunications off Rock Ridge Road in Dodgingtown, Sprint withdrew its

application which was pending before the ZBA.

In February 1997, the Connecticut Siting Council unanimously approved a

request from Sprint to install a digital cellular telecommunications antenna

array on an existing antenna tower at Northeast Utilities' Newtown Service

Center on Barnabas Road in the Hawleyville industrial area.

Wireless telecommunications communications facilities typically are placed

along heavily-traveled roads to provide digital cellular communications for

motorists with portable telephones.

The first wireless tower in town was built alongside Exit 11 of Interstate-84

in Sandy Hook.

Comments are open. Be civil.

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